The Tampa Bay Rays have a long drawn out stadium issue, that has brought on speculation of relocation. This newest idea is the most radical.
According to Marc Topkin, the potential ownership group in Montreal is no longer looking for full custody of the Tampa Bay Rays, but instead just wants the weekends…Okay, not that radial. It would be more like divorced parents splitting the summer time.
The Montreal Expos were in existence from 1969-2004 when they became the Washington Nationals. Since then, they have longed for baseball back in Montreal, and baseball has been trying to figure out how to make that happen. Even considering league expansion. This plan would be the most..unique.
Stephen Bronfman is the leader of the group trying to bring baseball back to Montreal. However, his new plan to spend half the Rays season in Tampa Bay and the other half in Montreal has a ton of ramifications that make this more of a wacky idea than a practical one.
The most boring would be how do taxes work? If you play for the Tampa Bay Montreal Expos do you have to pay taxes in Montreal? One would presume yes, making the Rays and now Montreal even less desirable for free agents.
This plan will likely never happen, though the Rays have been cutting edge in every other area why not be the first ever split team?, the plan would not even be able to be implemented until 2027 without the consent of the city of St. Petersburg.
But, let’s get weird. Let’s say it does happen. It is February after all, would you rather talk about the winless Rays in the grapefruit league? (by the way, the Rays sit 3.5 games back of the Grapefruit league championship behind the blemishless Pirates)
Okay, so play with me in this space. It is 2028 and the Rays have survived the stadium talks for now, but at what cost? They now have to play half their home games in another country!
Now, the first problem is, in baseball, you get 81 home games. 81 divided by two (for the two locations) is 40.5 so you can not play half a game in Montreal and the other half in Tampa. Unless a George Brett pine tar game breaks out and they have to make up the game after protest later.
So does the extra game a year go to Tampa Bay every year due to time served? Or, does it rotate? one year Tampa Bay gets the extra game, the next year Montreal gets it, and so on.
Let’s assume the two sides agree to the latter.
Who gets the have the first half and the second half? Does that too rotate and change on a yearly basis? And if the team makes the postseason who gets to host those games?
Let’s assume all of that rotates each year and it is a luck of the draw based on what year it falls.
Are we going to have the Tampa Bay Rays for half the season and the Montreal Expos for half the season? If the team is all about money, bringing back those sweet Expo uniforms, hats, apparel, and logo while also selling Rays memorabilia could be a cash cow. I would love to embrace this and be a Rays fan and in the middle of summer be an Expos fan. Would we have to keep changing our site name from Rays Colored Glasses to Expos colored glasses?
Which logo would go on the All-Star representatives? Hall of Fame plaques?
Now, how does it impact fans?
In theory, it creates a monster fanbase. You would have a country behind Montreal (maybe split with Toronto) and the Rays fanbase in the local Florida area.
Montreal fans are hungry to bring baseball back. I do not consider that a fluid market even if they had to share the Expo Rays with Tampa, they would do it.
However, would Tampa Bay fans who have been hurt, and overlooked so many times already but the national media, front office, and even players, be now willing to share a team?
Going back to the playoff situation which I think the Tampa Bay Rays have a good young core and a good shot at making the postseason this year but for certain within the next two or three.
Baseball is a local sport. You care about your local team, prospect, and games and not much else. Unless you are a baseball nut, you do not care what happens to the Giants this season, or the Padres.
You care about what is happening to the Tampa Bay Rays.
If they are stripped away midseason, would the investment still be there now watching a Montreal based team?
Or if the team is now plopped down in the city of St. Petersburg after half a year in Montreal have you been making the investment, and staying current with everything that has happened when they are not in your backyard?
For a lot of us, especially those of you taking the time to read this, the answer remains yes, begrudgingly or not.
But for the less diehard, less baseball nut driven fans, the answer is no. So the small Rays stronghold becomes even smaller. Until eventually Montreal faces Tampa Bay out and just takes over the team for 162 games.
This new plan, which again is not realistic or likely, would only benefit Montreal if it did happen.